This motorcycle accident occurred at the “Tail of the Dragon” at Deals Gap in North Carolina / Tennessee. I’ve written about this infamous stretch of road before (see post from 1/20/10) as it’s known for being such a “dangerous” road. Looking at accident videos can help us figure out what went wrong.
Unfortunately, the first bike that went down is too far in the distance to evaluate what went wrong. What really impressed me though, is what happened next. It looks like a classic case of “target fixation” – more on that in a minute.
While the group appeared to be riding at a quick pace, it doesn’t seem excessive. I’ve ridden big cruisers through there with sparks flying from the floorboards and I don’t see anything like that here. I don’t think the limits of the bikes were exceeded. Rather, as too many discover on this road, the first rider to go down exceeded his/her limit and either ran wide, locked the rear brake in the turn (no-no), or maybe actually dragged a floorboard or made contact with the frame on the road. Too far away to tell.
One bike going down is bad enough, but there is just no cause for the second bike to have followed. Distracted by the accident in front, the rider focused on it. Where your eyes go, you go and there couldn’t be a much more dramatic example than this one. Target fixation may be the leading cause of motorcycle accidents. You go where you look. Who hasn’t seen a pothole or bump, focused on it so you won’t hit it, only to nail it dead on.
Training your eyes to always look at where you want be in the future is one of those motorcycle riding techniques that takes a little time to develop. It’s especially difficult to maintain when something dramatic happens right in front of you like in this video. The following rider should have kept his/her eyes focused down the road, especially with another turn coming up quickly.
The verdict – inexperienced riders pushing their limits in a new situation. A recipe for a wreck.